Registration for ‘National Service’ – an imposition and a threat

The first registration period of the ‘National Service’ scheme opened on January 25, 1965 and continued until February 8, 1965.  This first period targeted young men turning twenty in the first half of 1965.  I was not due to register until July but my anxiety level – and my anger - was rising:

With the little Nasho Register – the little Nasho slip
'You can have a trip to Malaysia with a bayonet on your hip'
The Minister for National Service Mr McMahon
Went shopping on a Friday night – his children on his arm
'Oh father, all those yellow forms stacked up near the door
In every court and post office – tell me what they’re for
Father, all those little forms stacked up to the roof
Tell me what their purpose is – please tell me the truth’
‘My son, why all those little forms stacked up near the door
Are for the use of all our boys who love to go to war
I will not have you sign the form – let’s go home my son
I will not let you go to war – until you’re 21’ 9 
They say it makes a man of you – they say it makes you strong
They say it makes you happy too – but can’t you see it’s wrong
Can’t you see them coming – can’t you see those men
Can’t you see them coming – marching home again
Two lame on the left flank – three men on the right
Four men dead in the middle – and five that cannot fight10
Obeying rashly those above them – the warring, scheming, coward crew
Instead of working hard to love them they kill their brothers passing through 11

Every so often I would sneak an anti-war reference into a song having nothing to do with war. For example ‘Tribute to Firefighters’ written in March 1965 included the line ‘You must admit that fighting fires beats fighting in a war’.

The first National Service ballot was drawn on March 10, 1965 at the office of the Department of Labour and National Service in the Century Building, Swanston Street Melbourne, a building that appropriately also housed Tattersall’s Lottery.  The first batch of national servicemen arrived at Puckapunyal army base on June 30, 1965.